This year, plastic pollution is the main theme of International Environment Day, celebrated on June 5.
In Africa, 4.4 million tonnes of plastic are found in oceans and seas every year, according to United Nations figures from 2010.
"Plastic, and waste management in general, is a very big problem in Africa," said Mohamed Atani, regional information officer for the UN environmental agency UNEP.
He described the problem of plastic pollution, which is gaining attention globally as it kills sea life and blankets swathes of the ocean surface, as "a danger for human health".
"Most of the plastic disposed in the ocean comes from the daily use of single-use plastics," said Atani.
The European Union this month proposed a ban on items such as plastic straws and cutlery.
While many western nations still dole out plastic bags in supermarkets, several African countries have taken the lead and banned them entirely, such as Morocco, Rwanda and Kenya.